Tuesday 30 December 2014

What I learned in 2014...

The end of another year is upon us. I try (when possible) to devote the final post of that year to recounting the previous twelve months, perhaps addressing something I wasn’t able to cover at the time. It’s certainly been a busy year for me, working on several projects, publications and exhibitions a trend I intend to carry over into next year, but until then please permit me to recount some things that I learned in 2014… Firstly at the start of the year, shortly after turning 36 I was shopping with my daughter when I spotted my wife driving past (quite oblivious of us). I tried to flag her down with no success, noticing that she had to stop for the traffic lights I chased after the car and just as I came alongside it my knee gave way causing me to stumble and fall to the pavement. I skidded a couple of feet along the ground before getting up again feeling embarrassed; I shrugged it off as nothing more than sore palms and a grazed knee. Over the following week however I found myself unable to shrug anything off anymore as my right shoulder was absolute agony, moving it was an ordeal, likewise with my left knee any pressure applied to it would bring tears to my eyes! Painkillers were taken, bringing a little relief before I eventually admitted that all wasn’t right and that I should consult my GP. So I (reluctantly) made the necessary appointment, followed several weeks later by a x-ray for a suspected torn rotator cuff and damage to the kneecap. A week later it was neither dismissed nor confirmed and my GP suggested Physiotherapy but after several unsuccessful attempts to make an appointment I threw (one arm) up in defeat and gave up as the pain had eased slightly. It still hurts from time to time (mostly due to ‘over’ stretching) as does my knee (with a continual numb feeling just under my knee). But through this experience I learned that making appointments with NHS is like a lottery and I am not getting any younger and my body no longer heals like it used to! That aside I learned some nice things in 2014…

Angela Lansbury is brilliant.
Dame Angela Lansbury, played Madame Arcati in Noel Coward’s ‘Blithe Spirit’ at the Gielgud Theatre and was superb but lets face it, this was no real surprise. Lets just try to forget for a moment that she was Elvis’ mother in ‘Blue Hawaii’ and that she fought off the Nazis using an army of enchanted armour in ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks’ she is after all… Jessica Fletcher!
Id never been to the Gielgud before so the entire show was an experience, Angela Lansbury (in fact the entire cast) was superb, we had a brilliant time.

Stephen Fry is a really nice man. 
Once again this was no real surprise as I actually knew this beforehand having written to him a couple of years back. But when I met him back in September it was confirmed.  I attended the opening night of Stephen Fry: Live at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. This was a short tour of the UK to promote the latest volume of his memoirs More Fool Me, and he was (as expected) in excellent raconteur form. A genuine delight to listen to clever, witty and incredibly humble both Mrs Jones and I had an amazing time.

Manchester has a thriving Tiki bar scene.
I adore Tiki, this vague, naïve romanticised western understanding towards religions and customs packaged into a single product appeals to me on many levels. Mrs Jones on the other hand an armchair anthropologist found this mishmash of religions and customs to be quite annoying, thankfully I was able to convert her in 2014 and we visited Lola Lo, in Whitworth Street West, Manchester for afternoon cocktails. Mrs Jones had the Flamingo and I had the Digga Digga Doo and very nice it was too, even got to add the mug to my Tiki mug collection. Who knew Tiki was such a hit in Manchester? I hope to explore more of them in 2015!

Deadpool hogs comic stalls.
Marvel’s Deadpool, seems to be popular on the cosplay scene I saw many dressed as him at the London film and comic convention. Many of which where leafing through comics at comic stalls, however much like people that insist on wearing their rucksacks in HMV, I wasn’t able to get the stalls on account of those two swords on Deadpool’s back!

I am a “super fan” of Doctor Who and was right about Peter Capaldi.
Seems I have a reputation for being a super fan of Doctor Who having been approached a few times by the media to provide an opinion on my favourite show. I was interviewed on two occasions by BBC Radio Cymru (Wales) the first was conducted the day before Peter Capaldi’s first story aired and then a follow up a few weeks later to find out what I thought… As predicted from the word go, he was brilliant as the Doctor and I am very impressed with his take on the character.

Sadly we lost a great many talented people this year RIP
Shirley Temple, Roger Lloyd-Pack, Harold Ramis, Kate O’Mara, Jim Petrie, Gordon Bell,
Mickey Rooney, Bob Hoskins, Rik Mayall, Casey Kasem, HR Giger,
James Garner, Robin Williams, Lauren Bacall, Richard Attenborough,
Joan Rivers, Glen A. Larson, Lynda Bellingham, Alvin Stardust, Ralph Baer and Christine Cavanaugh.

A very Happy New Year to all my friends out there old and new, my sincerest of thanks to all that supported my work over the past year.

© Arfon Jones 2014. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Poster Girl

Just before Christmas I was tagged by the ever lovely, actress/model Sian Davies in this marvellous photo uploaded on her own facebook page. Taken at the screening of Ryan Kift’s ‘Zombies from Ireland’ at the Galeri in Caernarfon back in 2013. You will recall that I provided the artwork for the poster (which features Sian) I doubt anyone actually looked at the poster though…

© Arfon Jones 2014. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Wednesday 26 November 2014


This year Batman, my favourite comic book hero celebrated his 75th anniversary. I hoped to commemorate the occasion by creating something remotely Batman related and thanks to long-time/professional cosplayer Dementia AKA "The ConMother" I have done just that! ‘Night at the Museum’ (acrylic and pen on A4 card) features one Batman’s most iconic villains Catwoman (who herself will be turning 75 next year). Catwoman has had many costumes over the years, but my favourite has always been the Golden Age purple dress with green cape (seeing as you asked I also like the Jim Balent purple version, The animated series and obviously both Julie Newmar and Michelle Pfeiffer’s costumes).
Much like Catwoman, Dementia too has had many outfits. Based in Florida, she has been a costumer at conventions for fifteen years and has featured in several calendars and magazines, along with the documentary ‘Unconventional Wisdom’ and when I saw her in her Catwoman costume I knew that I had to draw her.  

© Arfon Jones 2014. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Monday 24 November 2014

"Tura! Tura! Tura! 3" Art Show, Los Angeles

This month I was delighted to have an ‘excuse’ to paint one of the most iconic women in cinema, the late, great Tura Satana! Having long admired her work in ‘Astro Zombie’ ‘The Doll Squad’ and of course ‘Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill!’  It was a privilege to join so many gifted artists for "Tura! Tura! Tura! 3" a group gallery art show devoted entirely to Tura celebrating her life & career at the Lethal Amounts Gallery, Los Angeles on December 6th.
My submission for the show is "Tura Tiki Sacrifice” Acrylic and Pen on card 12” X 10” I think the painting speaks for itself... The opening night sounds amazing as it will not only be hosted by Tera Patrick with Lori Williams and Dennis Busch in attendance but it will also have all night music, go-go dancers and a performance by Kitten Natividad! Sadly I will not be able to make it, but I hope everyone has a wonderful time (take plenty of pics!) please follow this link for further news and updates and full list of contributing artists.

My sincerest thanks to Siouxzan Perry and Lethal Amounts
© Arfon Jones 2014. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

“Mostra: Doctor's Universe” Art Show, Milan

Has it really been a year since my last Doctor Who related post?
I was recently invited to join a group of other artists to celebrate the universe of Doctor Who in an art show entitled Mostra: Doctor's Universe opening at the Oratory of Saints Ambrogio in Milan, Italy on December 15th running through to the 21st.
My submission for the show is "Rules are made to be broken" Acrylic & pen on A3 card featuring the brilliant Peter Capaldi looking into a cracked mirror with his previous regenerations looking back at him. Follow the link for further information. Sadly I will not be there, but do please pop in for a gander!


© Arfon Jones 2014. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Shaun in the City

Back in 2013 I visited Cheddar Gorge and spotted one of 80 fibreglass Gromits that formed part of Aardman’s ‘Gromit Unleashed’ public art exhibition. Each sculpture was designed by different artists, making up a trail that encouraged people to “collect them all” the project not only contributed a record-breaking £123 million to the local economy but also raised £2.3 million for Bristol Children’s Hospital charity, Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal. Undoubtedly spurred on by its fantastic response they have decided to do it again only this time with Shaun the Sheep. In 2015 ‘Shaun in the City’ will be launched which will see two “ewe-nique arts trails” across London and Bristol, forming “the world’s biggest, baaa-rilliant sheep hunt” featuring 120 sculptures created by artists, celebrities and designers. I thought I would have a go and submit some ideas, sadly my designs didn’t make the grade but I thought I would share them on here anyway in an attempt to spread the good word and encourage you all to support them and their great cause.
My entries were…

“Mixed Veg” 
Inspiration for this one came about when I noticed that Shaun’s feet looked like spring onions reminding me of the vegetable/fruit animal competitions found at most self respecting village fates. This vegetarian option attempts to recreate Shaun’s likeness through the medium of vegetables.

Franken-Shaun was cobbled together after I noted the similarities between the shape of Shaun’s ‘hair’ and the flat head of another iconic figure…

© Shaun the Sheep is a registered trademark of Aardman Animations Ltd. Grand Appeal / Wallace & Gromit’s Children’s Charity Reg. 1043603. All rights reserved.
© Arfon Jones 2014. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Friday 31 October 2014

Monster Memories: Dr Walpurgis' Vault of Horror

I’ve made no secret of my enduring memory of Halloween 1992 the night Ghostwatch aired. But Halloween 1992 didn’t end there, far from it because another show debuted moments after. As the nation telephoned the BBC switchboard to complain and enquire about Sarah Green’s safety the rest of us were turning over to BBC 2 to watch an all-night Halloween marathon entitled Vault of Horror hosted by one* of Britain’s first TV horror hosts Dr Walpurgis. Created especially for the programme by novelist/ horror aficionado Kim Newman and portrayed by actor Guy Henry with makeup by Geoffrey Portass. In an article for the TV Times producer Nick Jones promised that Vault of Horror would, “Celebrate all aspects of the genre from films and TV to books and special effects ” and it was! It kicked off with the network TV premiere of George A. Romero’s Creepshow followed by an apparently newly restored cut of Curse of the Werewolf before ending with The Bride of Frankenstein! (They also showed Death Line and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein but my video recorder had run out of tape by that point). Vault of Horror must have been a hit because the Dr returned to our screens the following year (changing his name to Dr Terror) continuing to introduce us to classic horror movies by means of informative introductions to camera or skits, but as the years went on the skits became shorter before Dr Terror faded from our screens entirely in 1996.
Seeing as the information doesn’t seem to be available anywhere else here is an ongoing episode guide that I intend to keep open and update accordingly.

Dr Walpurgis’ Vault of Horror

Saturday October 31st 1992 11:05pm Horror Bites: What's behind the Door, Mummy? What it is that scares people.
11.20pm Horror Bites:Tales from EC. Comics that inspired Creepshow.
11.25pm Creepshow (1982).
1.25am Horror Bites: The Art of Illusion. About make-up effects wizard Tom Savini.
1.30am Horror Bites:The Unholy Trinity. The creations of Clive Barker, Sean Cunningham and Wes Craven.
1.40am The Curse of the Werewolf (1961).
3.10am Horror Bites:Prime Evil. Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell on the Evil Dead saga.
3.15am Horror Bites:Terror on the Page. Stephen King and other authors open their books.
3.20am The Bride of Frankenstein (1935).
4.30am Horror Bites:The Horror of Sex. Love, pain, sex, sexuality and the position of women in horror.
4.35am Horror Bites:Dario's Friends. Dario Argento at work on his new movie, Trauma.
4.45am Death Line (1972).
6. 10am Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948).

Dr Terror’s Vault of Horror:

Friday September 10th 1993 11:15pm Vamp (1986).
Saturday September 11th 1993 12:50am Mask of Satan (1960).

Friday September 17th 1993 11:25pm The Guardian (1990).
Saturday September 18th 1993 1:05am From Hell it Came (1957).

Friday September 24th 1993 11:30pm Curse of Frankenstein (1957).
Saturday September 25th 1993 12:55am Blood of of Dracula (1957).

Friday October 1st 1993 11:05pm Horror Express (1972).
Saturday October 2nd 1993 12:30am The Comedy of Terrors (1964).

Friday October 8th 1993 11:10pm Crucible of Terror (1971).
Saturday October 9th 1993 12:35am The Beast with Five Fingers (1946).

Friday October 22nd 1993 11:50pm Blood of the Vampire (1958).
Saturday October 23rd 1993 1:20am I Don't Want to be Born (1976).

Friday October 29th 1993 11:20pm The Gate (1987).
Saturday October 30th 1993 12:45am I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (1957).

Friday November 5th 1993 11:10pm The Haunted House of Horror (1969).
Saturday November 6th 1993 12:40am House on Haunted Hill (1958).

Friday November 12th 1993 11:15pm The Lost Boys (1987)
Saturday November 13th 1993 12:45am I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957).

Friday November 19th 1993 11:40pm April Fools Day (1986).
Saturday November 18th 1993 1:05am Cats Eyes (1985).

Friday December 3rd 1993 11:05pm Countess Dracula (1971).
Saturday December 2nd 1993 12:35am Voodoo Woman (1957).

Saturday December 18th 1993 12:10am The Hands of the Ripper (1971).

Saturday September 3rd 1994 12:30am Dr Terror’s House of Horrors (1965).

Friday September 9th 1994 11:00pm The Fog (1980).

Friday September 16th 1994 11:00pm The Ghoul (1975).

Friday September 23rd 1994 11:05pm The Unameable Returns (1992).

Friday September 30th 1994 11:00pm Taste the Blood of Dracula (1969)

Saturday October 8th 1994 12:05am A Study in Terror (1965).

Friday October 14th 1994 11:45pm Legend of the Werewolf (1974)

Friday October 28th 1994 11:20pm Body Parts (1991).

Saturday November 5th 1994 12:25am Curse of the Crimson Alter (1968).

Friday November 11th 1994 11:40pm The Mummy (1959).

Friday November 18th 1994 11:00pm The Legacy (1978).

Friday December 9th 1994 11:35pm Alligator (1980).

Saturday December 17th 1994 12:20am The Serpent and the Rainbow (1987).

Friday September 27th 1996 11:55pm House of the Seven Corpses (1974).

Saturday October 12th 1996 12:40am Devils of Darkness (1965).

Saturday October 19th 1996 12:40am The Cellar (1970).

Saturday October 26th 1996 12:50am A Child of Satan (1991).

Saturday November 2nd 1996 12:05am Ghost Story (1981).

Saturday November 9th 1996 12:35am Dr. Giggles (1992).

Saturday November 16th 1996 12:20am Phantasm (1978).

Saturday December 14th 1996 12:15am The People Under the Stairs (1991).

Both paintings side by side
I vowed to follow up my Ghostwatch painting (that features on both Rich Lawden’s Ghostwatch: Behind the Curtains documentary dvd and book(s)) with a bookend image devoted to the Vault of Horror, celebrating the wonderful Dr Walpurgis/ Terror and those wonderful movies that he introduced me to on that unforgettable Halloween. Many thanks to all involved with this show
Happy Halloween! 
*Deadly Ernest from Sky Channel’s Deadly Ernest Horror Show to have actually been the first British TV horror host find out more about him and an episode guide on this post.
© Arfon Jones 2014. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Friday 10 October 2014

New Comic! Slaughterhouse Farm #2

One of those ‘heads-up’ posts to say that Slaughterhouse Farm #2 is out now!
Just like the issue one, this issue was written by AJ Ballard and Matt Warner, lettered by Nikki Foxrobot and illustrated by yours truly. Pick up your issue at Hellbound Media’s stalls at Scardiff, Living DeadCon and Wales Comic Con! The first 50 issues come with an exclusive art print of the cover artwork. Already read it? Let them know what you thought either on their Facebook page or Twitter.

© Arfon Jones 2014. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Thursday 9 October 2014

Meet Darwin the Tortoise!

This post is long overdue, I have been so busy this past year that I haven’t had the opportunity officially introduce the ‘newest’ addition to our family. Ladies and gentlemen of the Internet I present to you, Darwin the Tortoise!
Having always wanted a pet tortoise the ambition was finally realised back in October 2013 when Mrs Jones treated me to an early Christmas present. Darwin (Other names considered were ‘Gamera’ and ‘Gustaf’ an obscurer reference for fellow Hammer Horror fans out there) is a Horsefields Tortoise (Agrionemys horsfieldii) and although Charles Darwin had nothing to do with this particular species of tortoise it is a name I have often associated with tortoises. The Horsefields Tortoise was actually named in honour of another naturalist, Dr Thomas Horsfield (1773-1859) founder of the Royal Entomological Society and the first assistant secretary of the Zoological Society of London in 1824. So our Darwin actually shares his name with TWO imminent naturalists! The Horsefields  (or Russian tortoise as they are more commonly known) originates from the Middle East, countries such as Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Iran, and some areas of North Western China favouring dry and arid regions of open landscapes. Being herbivores they feed by grazing and have a particular fondness for dandelion Horsefields are found further north than any other species of tortoise, owing to their ability to combat climatic extremes. What many books fail to mention however is that this species actually went a little further north than that…outer space! On September 18 1968 the Soviets sent Zond 5 on a lunar orbit. Making Zond-5 the first spacecraft to circle the Moon and return to land on Earth. Having spent a week in space the unmanned craft splashed down in the Indian Ocean, once retrieved the Russians revealed that the craft had contained wine flies, meal worms, plants, seeds, bacteria, and two Horsefields tortoises! The story goes that they lost around 10 percent of their body weight, remained active, maintained a healthy appetite and were reportedly able to breed afterwards. The tortoises would return to space in 1975, they spent a total of 90 days, 11 hours, 46 minutes onboard the unmanned spacecraft Soyuz 20 setting a duration record for animals in space! Bearing that factor in mind along with how tortoises are living fossils, having walked the earth for 200 million years, you will understand my fascination with these reptiles! Their association with humans keeping them as pets does not stretch so far back.

Although tortoises being kept as pets have been recorded as far back as the 17th century, its believed that they where more often used as food. The discovery of a 130-year-old tortoise leg bone at Stafford Castle in Staffordshire by Leicester University back in 2010 was cited as earliest archaeological evidence of a tortoise being kept as an actual pet in Britain. But its worth noting that the great "parson-naturalist" Gilbert White FRS (1720 –1793) was renowned for his devotion to his precious Timothy, the Greek Tortoise. White inherited Timothy from his Aunt Rebecca Snooke  who died in 1780 her husband, Henry Snooke purchased Timothy from a sailor in Chichester for half a crown, forty years before. Readers of White’s classic work The Natural History of Selborne (1789) will know that it documents the activities of the "old Sussex tortoise". White kept extensive accounts of his companion’s life and behaviour right up to his own death in 1793, Timothy outlived White by one year, having been kept in captivity for around sixty years, the shell was presented to the British museum of natural history, London in 1853. On the subject of naturalists with pet tortoises Charles Darwin’s name crops up once again as it was long been reported that he too had a pet tortoise, a single juvenile from James Island in the Galápagos in 1837. The fate of the tortoise had long been a mystery, with many believing that she had been transported to Australia. But when Harriet the tortoise (estimated to be 175 years of age) died in 2006 the Natural History Museum discovered that they in fact had Darwin’s “pet” all along having unknowingly had the tortoise in their collection all the time! Registration details previously undetected were located on the inner face of the lower shell informing researchers that the specimen had been registered to the British Museum collection in 1837 indicating that the tortoise had only lived for a few months. Thankfully not the case with another Timothy the Tortoise, former mascot on British naval ship HMS Queen. Not only was Timothy Britain's oldest resident but also the oldest Mediterranean Spur Thighed Tortoise in existence as it’s believed that he (later discovered to in fact be a ‘she’) was 160 years of age when he died in 2004! Discovered by Captain John Courtenay Everard of the Royal Navy, a relative of the 10th Earl of Devon. Timothy served as their mascot during the Crimean War and stayed aboard a succession of naval vessels before retiring to Powderham Castle in Devon, Southwest England in 1892. Cared for by the members of the Courtenay family, Timothy lived in the castle's Rose Garden wearing a tag that read, "My name is Timothy. I am very old - please do not pick me up" and was laid to rest in the grounds of the castle.
Someone recently asked if it was actually illegal to keep pet tortoises these days, its not. What is illegal is the trading of wild caught tortoises taken from their natural habitat. They are shipped in crates for several days without food and water causing an incredible amount of suffering.  Many are often infected with viruses or parasites so they not only die before reaching their destinations they also infect others. Darwin was purchased from reputable pet shop Timperley Aquatics, Altrincham who obtain their tortoises from Zoological International Ltd, the only U.K. distributor of 100% certified Ranched Horsfields. All tortoises sold by the company are captive bred by government approved breeders and all consignments comply with the regulations of livestock in transit. As previously mentioned Darwin has been with us almost a year and it certainly has been an fascinating one, he requires a lot of care and attention and what we loose in purring and stick fetching we gain in education (although he does wag his tail from time to time). Admittedly not the liveliest of pets, he certainly has a personality (stubbornness and inquisitiveness) and he is a delight to watch going about his day either eating his leafy greens or exploring the entire layout of the first floor of our home. Delighted with him, love him dearly. Thanks for reading!

© Arfon Jones 2014. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Monday 6 October 2014

Ogwen River Festival 2014: Arm of the 'Swamp-Thing'

Saturday 4th I was invited by the Sculpture Circle to join their one-day exhibition at the Parc Meurig woods in Bethesda part of ‘Gwyl Ogwen’ an event promoting the natural environment and creative arts in the Bethesda area through working with the community and in partnership for local social and economic benefit. I couldn’t think of a better location to unveil the latest edition to be added to my collection of ‘Wonderment's and Atrocities’ the Arm of the Swamp-Thing! I love the 1982 Swamp Thing movie it appeals to me on many levels as its both a superhero AND monster movie. A wronged scientist turning into a mutant plant creature starring Louis Jourdan and Adrienne Barbeau written and directed/written by Wes Craven what’s there not to like? The scene that many remember is when Swamp Thing’s left arm is hacked by a machete, later on the down hearted Swamp Thing manages to use sunlight to grow a new arm and save the day. This piece, explains what became of the lost arm, it flourished! Made from Papier-mâché and clay on a frame made from twigs and string painted with acrylics.
Although I liked the colour of the first Swamp Thing in the movie I preferred Jim Wynorski ‘organic’ look in the equally enjoyable The Return of Swamp Thing and so tried to replicate it by applying roots, lichen, moss and flowers and real ivy (growing 2” during construction of the arm). A label was enclosed that read,
‘Arm of the Swamp-Thing’ Louisiana swamps, 1982
This arm is reported to have belonged to the legendary ‘Swamp Thing’ of the Louisiana swamps believed to have once been one, Dr. Alec Holland a developer of plant/animal hybrids at a top-secret bioengineering facility. It was reported that Dr. Holland actually ‘mutated’ into the legendary ‘Swamp Thing’ by his own formula during a scuffle at the facility when a terrorist group infiltrated it. A later encounter with the group resulted in the ‘Swamp Thing’ loosing his arm. Despite being severed the arm of the of the mysterious half man/ half plant creature continues to ‘live’ to this very day.

Thankfully the heavy rain we experienced the night before held off, and the arm was placed on a tree stump along the path. The woods lent themselves perfectly to the look and it was great seeing the public, made up of art lovers and families out for the day getting up close to the piece and examining the details before making their way along the walkway to seek out other works scattered along the pathway. During the day I was also able to catch up with my fellow collaborators from last year’s 'Hidden Worlds: Hidden Artists’ Exhibition Lisa Hudson, Harri Carmichael, and Lindsey Colbourne and meet many other creative folk and local talent. It was a nice tranquil setting and everyone seemed happy and impressed, as was I and I look forward to the next one and thank them for inviting me along.

© Arfon Jones 2014. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Sunday 5 October 2014

Monster Memories: The Alton Towers Haunted House: Return to Gloomy Wood

Around two years ago Mrs Jones and I were driving through Staffordshire when I noticed signs indicating the direction of Alton Towers theme park when by an amazing coincidence Classic FM started playing Grieg’s ‘In the hall of the mountain King’! (Unofficial theme of Alton Towers used for their advertisements) I noted the coincidence to Mrs Jones who was horrified that I associated Grieg’s finest with a theme park but presenter Nicholas Owen came to my defence when he enquired after the piece ended, “How many of you out there where thinking of Alton Towers during that?”  In truth, I actually associate ‘In the hall of the mountain King’ one particular Alton Towers ride, which opened back in 1992 The Haunted House! After an absence of 18 years I returned to Alton Towers last weekend and visited one of my old haunts.
I was a frequent patron of Alton Towers between 1991 and 1996 then I just stopped going. There was no particular reason for this I just never got round to a return visit. But as I stepped off the monorail I found that a great deal had changed over the past 18 years. Henry Hound was no longer there to greet guests, the Black Hole was gone (closed down in 2005). The Corkscrew Britain’s first giant corkscrew roller coaster (and the first roller coaster I ever rode on) was dismantled in 2008 (but I was pleased to see a section of it at least displayed outside the entrance plaza) and the Haunted House… still there! Or was it?

First time in the Haunted House
When the great John Wardley opened his new ride to the public in 1992 there was a massive amount of publicity surrounding it. Between various children’s television show segments and the aforementioned  ‘In the hall of the mountain King’ advertisement, with me being the monster fan that I was/am I yearned to experience the ride for myself! Then when it was announced that our school trip that year was to be Alton Towers I was ecstatic and insisted that the Haunted House be the first ride that my friends and I went on. As we joined the infamous queue line I took excessive amounts of photographs of the house and various humorous gravestones (but sadly not one of them came out). I have vivid memories of finally getting through the front door and standing in the Entrance Hall and Drawing Room before getting into the carriage. Various elements of the ride still reside, I recall the tunnel of doom making an impact on me and being over all impressed by the experience, and even being overwhelmed by the gift shop! I returned the following year, my brother in tow (alerting him as to where the ride photo was taken) and with each ride I would notice something different and although I hadn’t been on the ride since 1996 I still spoke fondly of it.

Apparently by 2002 the Haunted House's visitor numbers had slumped so Alton Towers decided on a re-theme the ride, adding laser guns to it and re-naming it Duel. I was so pleased to see the old house still standing, and now armed with a relatively good, digital camera with a zoom option I was finally able to take those detailed shots I was anxious to take 22 years earlier. As I walked in it was just like old times, many of the details that I had committed to memory were still in place (minus the portraits and I had completely forgotten about it having a slanted walkway!) Going in with a gun was strange (as strange as being able to simply walk in and not queue.) It was certainly the ride I remembered from my childhood only with little lights everywhere and zombies ‘jumping’ out. Apparently I ‘won’ scoring the most but we didn’t bother with an after ride photograph as a picture of myself zapping monsters with a big grin on my face with my wife and child sat next to me looking bored just looked silly. Admittedly, being the traditionalist that I am I didn’t care much for the ‘new’ features, but I understand that in order to survive the ride must adapt. I still love it though and hold it in high regard, why wouldn’t I? It’s classic! I hope these photos relive some pleasant memories for you.

Oh, by the way Mr Michael P Eley’s ‘Smoke and Mirrors: The Haunted House of Alton Towers’ book, an excellent read that I highly recommend!
© Arfon Jones 2014. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Friday 26 September 2014

Here's One We Made Earlier in Manchester

I had a short, mini break from the studio this week and visited Salford, last time I was here I had a look around the Blue Peter garden. Blue Peter would once again play a part in this return trip as this time we visited the Lowry’s Here's One We Made Earlier exhibition which explores the past 90 years of children's television at the BBC. Walking through the exhibit was like walking through one’s childhood with various iconic relics and photographs scattered thought the exhibition space. Familiar faces and quotes lined the walls as the sound of familiar television themes and people saying, “I remember that” filled the air, it was brilliant. During these dark times of scandalous truths emerging about a handful of our childhood heroes it is important to strengthen our memories of the ones that didn’t let us down.
In attendance was Morph, The Clangers, Bagpuss, Ottis the Aardvark, the Why Bird, Gordon the Gopher and of course Basil Brush. To be able to get up close to these puppets and see the detail and workmanship was sublime! Other highlights (for me) was seeing the Smallfilms artwork of Noggin the Nog and Ivor the Engine, the Grange Hill uniform, The Tracy Island that Anthea Turner made on Blue Peter and of course Humpty from Play School. I would have liked to have seen Pinky and Perky, Edd the Duck and the Wombles there but we can’t have everything. Not that it reflects in anyway on this wonderful exhibition that I urge you all to visit! It runs until October 12th and is free! So don’t delay!

© Arfon Jones 2014. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Friday 19 September 2014

The Angry Video Game Nerd

Over the years I have enjoyed the work of a handful of Internet reviewers and often have their channels playing in the background as I work and one of my favourites has to be the Angry Video Game Nerd. For the benefit of those not in the know The Angry Video Game Nerd or also known as the AVGN is a character created/played by James Rolfe who reviews the worst games that the gaming industries from back in the day had to offer. He reflects on their low quality and poor designs and looks back at the game consoles themselves and the movies that inspired some of the games, his videos provide a nostalgic look back at several aspects of gaming history. His infamous ‘sweary’ rants about how ridiculously difficult a stage or the overall game is reminds me of my own frustrations with game glitches, random objects that get in ‘your’ way and the platforms that we fall through. Then when your almost at point of tears you declare that you HATE the game but before the words even have a chance to echo you press ‘continue’ to start over again refusing to let the game win!
I had always intended to create a ‘follow up’ to my Stuart Ashen’s Poundland Peril painting and seeing as that was a cover for a fictional Spectrum game I thought the next logical console would be the NES and thought who better to feature on the cover but the Angry Video Game Nerd?!
Anyone that watches James Rolfe’s other Cinemassacre projects will know that he is quite different to his alter ego and so with this in mind I decided to base the image on one of the first games he reviewed ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ on the NES. Having drawn a concept sketch I thought I would upload it to my DeviantArt page to see what AVGN fans thought, and a they seemed to like it leaving positive comments but at that point my workload increased and I had to temporarily shelve the project. Then in May of last year, having successfully completed the bulk of my commissions and attended Wales Comic Con I decided to take a break and catch up on the latest episodes of the AVGN and to my absolute surprise I discovered my artwork featured on the opening credits! (00:16) I had absolutely no idea it had been used in an AVGN episode (never mind one devoted to the Toxic Crusader and Troma starring Lloyd Kaufman!) spurred on by this I vowed to have the painting finished in time for the Nerd’s 10th anniversary year and here it is! Happy 10th anniversary Angry Video Game Nerd thanks to James Rolfe and all involved with the show for all the entertainment!

© Arfon Jones 2014. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Monday 15 September 2014

Sarkylocks and the 3 Bears: The Rejected Risqué Rendering

The other day my good friend Dean Wilkinson informed me that he recently sold a boxset of The Bill to a gentleman in Ireland and that once the sale had gone through they both chatted about Dean’s writing career.
(Dean is one of the funniest people I know, writing for both TV, radio, stage, books, comics, console games and apps providing material for Harry Hill, And & Dec and Stephen Fry) they eventually settled on to the subject of Dean’s book Sarkylocks and the 3 Bears (which I illustrated). It would seem that the gentleman not only liked Dean’s idea and the artwork “by Wales’ finest Arfon Jones” (Dean’s words not mine) but he also thought Sarkylocks was very sexy… Seems this took Dean by surprise, as he said, “I hadn’t thought of her like that at all. She’s far too young for a bloke like me who’s pushing 50.” But I then reminded him of one particular image that I drew of her that was deemed a little too risqué for the book…  Dean’s response, “ Oh yeah, she’s is a bit of a femme fatale. But I ain’t climbing that Yew Tree!  I was going to suggest we send the Irish bloke a copy of the rejected picture but he’d only ruin it.” So here is that image for everyone to enjoy!

Buy Sarkylocks and the 3 Bears on Amazon
Check out Dean’s work here and find out about his latest project Sheerluck

EXTRA: On the subject of Sarkylocks and the 3 bears, back in January my dear friend Kristin Brooks in Arizona sent me this photo!

© Arfon Jones 2014. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Saturday 9 August 2014

Ghostwatch: Behind the Table

I believe I mentioned that I was at this year’s London Film & Comic Con… As I navigated around masses of people and stalls I was fortunate enough to run into a few friends along the way and three of those were Ghostwatch: Behind the Curtains director Rich Lawden, Ghostwatch writer Stephen Volk and director Lesley Manning! Rich has documented the weekend in his short film Ghostwatch: Behind the Table which features Stephen, Lesley, Hunt Emerson and a few Ghostwatch fans and contributors to the documentary including me… don’t let that put you off though, its very good!

With Ghostwatch writer Stephen Volk and
Ghostwatch director Lesley Manning

© Arfon Jones 2014. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Sunday 13 July 2014

London Film & Comic Con 2014: Nuff Said!

Having always wanted to meet the legend that is Stan (the man) Lee I was all set to do so a few years back at a seemingly reputable CON, Sadly, poor organising on their part put an end to that plan and I missed out. It was a bitter experience and I thought it was my last chance to meet him. But bless the man, he decided to call on us again for what was promoted as his last ever-European signing appearance. As their web site explained, “After decades of meeting his fans, he has finally decided that long distance travel is to be left to the likes of Iron Man, who can do it far faster and look a little more awesome when doing so! And thanks to the world being safely left in the hands of our superheroes, he can hang up his cape on the European circuit.” So this true believer was granted one more throw of the dice and thanks to Mrs Jones and the tradition of giving at Christmas I travelled to Earls Court for the London Film & Comic Con to face front and meet Mr. Marvel himself! Excelsior!

© Arfon Jones 2014. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Saturday 14 June 2014

Exhibition at Selsey Cricket Club

On June 8th, we spent a weekend in Selsey and attend the unveiling of a permanent 3D-art exhibition at Selsey Cricket club one of oldest cricket clubs in the country (celebrating its 180th anniversary this year). The piece, created by Arts Dream’s Meryl Penning commemorates the life of one of the club’s former Secretary, President and Life vice President Sir Patrick Moore. Apart from being a world-renowned astronomer, author and television personality Sir Patrick was an intrepid Cricketer and Meryl created this wonderful recreation of his study at “Farthings” (where many of the club’s committees were held over the years) in a corner of the Pavilion (now renamed the Sir Patrick Moore Pavilion) in his honour. The piece, complete with thatched roof and leaded windows contains photographs, memorabilia, and artwork from Patrick’s study and the attention to detail is amazing. Everyone that looked in through the glass would say, “oh look there is his….” Filling in the gap with something that they recalled seeing when they visited Farthings.
Each time we looked in we would noticed another familiar item, from his famous Woodstock typewriter to the tankards hanging from the beams. The shot glasses that lined the walls, his cuckoo clock and his mother’s paintings. Also amongst the memorabilia on the walls is one of my paintings, ‘Moon Base Farthings’ which I painted for Patrick back in 2011. A gift, thanking him for allowing Beth and myself to spend what was to be our last weekend at Farthings, and for the use of his garden as a backdrop for my proposal to Beth. Last time I spoke with Patrick he told me that the painting had “Pride of place” in his study so I was delighted to find that it now lives on at the cricket club in this magnificent display. (The artwork also featured on the back of the commemorative booklet made available on the day raising proceeds toward a new clubhouse for the club)
Following on from the unveiling we had a glorious day of brass band and sunshine before Selsey played against the Lashings All Stars competing for the Sir Patrick Moore Cup. We had a marvellous time and commend all involved.
Meryl's fantastic work can still be viewed at the club on the following dates:
10-4pm on Thursday /Friday through June and July.10-4pm every weekday through August.
I urge you to visit and see this magnificent piece for yourselves, and be sure to pick up a commemorative booklet too!

Wearing my Halley's Comet Society 2061 tie

© Arfon Jones 2014. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

RIP Rik Mayall/ Richard 'Richie' Richard (1958 –2014)

To be perfectly frank, 2014 has been a rubbish year for me as far childhood idols, mostly due to them dying on an unsettlingly regular basis. This is not an exaggeration I have actually found myself refraining from dedicating blog posts to each one for fear of these posts becoming monotonous. However I felt that I had to address the latest as it took me (and not to mention the nation) completely and utterly by surprise. Rik Mayall, star of The Young Ones and Bottom died on the 9th of June aged only 56, a ridiculous waste, and the loss of a unique talent that the world will never see the likes of again.
Best known as Rick in The Young Ones, Alan B'Stard in The New Statesman or Lord Flashheart in the Blackadder Rik Mayall’s television career started around the same time that I first became aware of television. He had piercing eyes a gurning face and a ‘dangerous’ persona that appealed to my snot joke loving, preteen sensibilities fuelled by his uncanny ability of appearing in programmes that didn’t appeal to my parents. Yet, despite this I was still able to catch his work on a regular basis if not the occasional episode of The Young Ones he would be reading George's Marvellous Medicine on Jackanory or the Grim fairy tales on Grim Tales leading up to the movie, Drop Dead Fred. Opinions of this movie have varied over the years, personally I loved it and watched it several times when it was released on video, the film not only delivered the before mentioned preteen sensibility requirements but also poignant moments of sentiment appropriately enough relating to growing up. I say appropriately because when I “grew up” a year later, crossing over to my teenage years, there was Rik again not only promoting Nintendo’s latest games but also in the guise of Richard "Richie" Richard in Bottom, perfectly paired with Adrian Edmondson as Edward "Eddie" Elizabeth Hitler. Bottom is one of my all time favourite comedy shows, there simply was nothing else like it. It not only appealed to those snot joke loving, preteen sensibilities that I refused to let go of but it also catered to my love of comedy slapstick and insane comedic scenarios. I have fond memories of staying over at my friend Marc’s house watching the tapes and endlessly laughing and quoting them at each other. As I became a student (harbouring aspirations of making animated superhero movies with Rik Mayall cast as the main villain) I would watch the Bottom Live videos. Sadly I missed out on attending their last live tour but having finally attended a Red Dwarf episode recording back in 2012-I thought another ambition would soon be realised when it was rumoured that Mayall and Edmondson would be reuniting for a Bottom spin-off. I was fired up and ready to snag front row tickets but alas it was not to be, it seems that the project was cancelled prior to production. Although disappointed at this outcome, I believed that it would only be a matter of time before they tried again and that all we had to do was wait a little longer, sadly we must now accept that it will NEVER happen, a truly sad prospect.
Rik Mayall, Bigger than Hitler - Better than Christ will be missed by all but never replaced.

© Arfon Jones 2014. All images are copyrighted throughout the world. Although I should imagine that the above image belongs to the BBC, no copyright infringement intended.

Saturday 3 May 2014

Operation Bath Duck Update: Scout Duck 002

Firstly, regular visitors to this site will have noticed some changes to the layout, one of them being that Operation Bath Duck now has its own page. As a fair amount of time can elapse between Scout Ducks reporting back I thought it best to file them in their own individual page. By separating them from other projects, news and mitherings I hope to make it easier for casual duck related browsing.
All reports can be found under ‘ducks’ located at the top of the page.
Secondly… Scout Duck: 002 reported in from Brunel University, Uxbridge and in the care of inventor Professor Heinz Wolff! Known for his passion for science and practical jokes Professor Heinz Wolff has a tremendous gift for inventing and encouraging others to learn. He is fondly remembered in the United Kingdom for presenting shows such as The Great Egg Race, Young Scientists of the Year and Great Experiments Which Changed the World but he holds numerous other achievements! He qualified in physiology and physics in 1954. Subsequently, whilst with the medical research council, he chose to work on the interface between engineering and the biological sciences, calling himself a bioengineer, thus giving a name to the new discipline. He became head of the divisions of bioengineering at the national institute for medical research and subsequently at the clinical research centre. He was made an honorary member of the European Space Agency in 1975, for which he was chair for the Advisory committee looking at the uses of micro-gravity for scientific research. He was also scientific director and co-founder of Project Juno, the private British-Soviet joint venture that sent Helen Sharman to the Mir space station, which saw Helen Sharman become Britain's first astronaut in 1991. In 1992 he was recipient of the Edinburgh medal, awarded in recognition of an outstanding contribution by a scientist to society.
He founded The Brunel Institute for Bioengineering (BIB) in 1983 a multidisciplinary innovative research and development organisation, which is now closely aligned to the School of Engineering and Design. The Institute has developed from a renowned space research facility into an organisation with a multi-purpose Laboratory, which the Professor retains, devoted to his research projects. Over the years they have developed instruments used for biological research in the weightless environment of orbiting spacecraft and Tools for Living, i.e. the use of technology of all kinds to improve the quality of life of elderly people. In one instance the conversion of three-wheel BMW bubble car to run on electricity as a prototype for a new mode of transport for older people.
Having long admired the Professor’s work and achievements over the years I was delighted to see how Scout Duck 002 was getting on. I thank the Professor and Maura Donnelly for their time and kindness in helping with this project. It’s good to know that Scout Duck: 002 is in safe hands!

Information courtesy of the Brunel University website.
For a detailed account of the project please read 'Operation Bath Duck'
© Arfon Jones 2014. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.


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